Interesting Promotion from Hyundai

Hyundai AssuranceI spent last weekend vegetating in front of the NFL Playoffs, watching them in HD.

I asked you yesterday what gadgets you got for the Holidays, and I mentioned the LCD photo frame I bought my wife. Well, she bought me a TV, an LCD-DVD player combo, and she upgraded (ahem, let me upgrade) the house to HD satellite receivers.

I’ve had an LCD for years, but I’ve never got around to biting the HD bullet. Anyway, I now have two LCD TVs on which to watch beautiful HD programming. It’s was like getting two sweet TVs for Christmas because I’m now realizing how awesome my old LCD really is when used for HD viewing. I’ve quickly become an HD snob, shunning programming in SD.

Meandering back to the point, sports look fantastic in HD, and natch, I test drove my new-old LCD by watching the NFL playoffs all weekend. I watched in real-time, not over TiVo, to get the best picture quality. So, as with any live sporting event, I was forced to watch the same ten ads for six hours each day. That’s enough to crack even the toughest of commercial defenses.

One ad caught my attention after 50 or so viewings, the one for Hyundai Assurance.

Apparently, if you buy or lease a new Hyundai and subsequently lose your employment involuntarily, you can return the vehicle scott-free with no ding on your credit. That’s pretty much the gist of the TV ads.

Once this finally sank into my ad-adverse brain, its simplicity and guts struck me. I can’t recall any similar offer from any car company or other company for that matter. Typically, when tough times hit, car companies offer employee pricing, lower interest rates, rebates, and other incentives to drive demand.

It seems too good to be true, and so, I dug into the fine print a little but didn’t find much to refute the macro-claim. Turns out that in addition to involuntary unemployment, they will also consider a handful of other negative occurrences that would torpedo your income. Very nice. The benefit covers up to $7,500 in negative equity, which seems pretty good. Although, I don’t know how well Hyundais hold their value.

It looks like you do need to make two scheduled payments, pay the remainder of the payments due prior to filing the benefit, and pay any negative equity over $7,500. Not too bad, again assuming their cars hold a decent amount of value.

Anyway, I’m not rushing out to buy any cars at this point. So, the ad has failed to lure me as a customer. However, I do think this is an interesting way to drive business in a smart way. I’m curious to see how much business it does attract and how easily subsequent claims are approved. I’m sure that over the next few months more information will surface, since this is a unique program.

I expected to see more blog coverage of this novel program, but it seems that MacWorld has most bloggers riveted for the week.

Here comes the disclaimer. I speak for myself, not Oracle.

So, did you notice this program? What did you think about it? Know anyone who’s planning to buy a Hyundai for this or any other reason? I’m interested to know.

Find the comments.




  1. I got my first LCD 2 years ago, when we moved to Tampa (I should have put that on my list). The 42' variety. I quickly found the HD channels and never really looked back. Where I used to stop on VH1 and MTV for their reality shows on occasion, I couldn't any more, because I didn't go that far down the dial. Plus, all those other stations looked like crap. I think I had 4 HD stations…it was that nice.

    I saw the same ad last night. I thought it was a pretty awesome offer. I am a might bit lazier than you and didn't go read the fine print though. Regardless, it definitely gives the impression that they 1) appreciate the investment (in money) buy a car entails and 2) actually care about you, the customer.

    Obviously #2 is #1 on my list. If I were in the market I would definitely check out the cars. I've driven one as a rental and I've seen the new Genesis (their high-end model) which is pretty sweet. The people that own them aren't VW people (aka fanatics, sort of like Mac people 🙂 but more practical in nature.

    Anyway, I have no idea what I'm trying to say other than I liked the offer and hope that it does bring them more business and the bean counters don't “technicality” customers to death on it.

  2. It's a great gimmick, and really nothing more than that.

    Think about what most people do when they buy a car:
    step 1: give dealership old car as a trade in
    step 2: take out loan for whatever amount you still owe
    step 3: take new car home
    step 4: make payments

    If you are like most people in the US if you lose your job you still need a car – at a minimum to get to the unemployment office and for job interviews. So if you do lose your job you will either keep the (no longer new) Hyundai you recently bought, sell it and buy something cheaper or take advantage of this offer.

    If their cars maintain their value well then you won't bring it back to Hyundai – you'll sell it privately and buy something cheaper.

    If their cars lose their value quickly it's not worth it for you to sell it so you might think about bringing it back to Hyundai, but remember that you still need a car. A car which you'll have to buy outright or finance, and you likely won't get good financing terms (if any) if you don't have a job? In the end for _most_ people it will probably be cheaper to keep keep the Hyundai and make the remaining payments.

    Either way you didn't bring it back to Hyundai.

    As long as Hyundai sells more cars than they would otherwise have sold they can eat the loss on the 1 in 1,000 people that do take advantage of the offer. And that loss, as you mention above, is capped at $7,500.

    Clever, clever marketing.

  3. You have a 42' (foot) LCD? I didn't know they made them that big; you must live in Jon Gruden's hood.

    Anyway, I like the human element to the promotion, but the cynic in me knows there's likely to be a catch. It's just good marketing. I wonder how the internal meetings went to get it approved . . .

  4. Agreed, it's very clever. I tend to think that most couples have two cars, which would make this an enticing proposition. I'd like to think at least one is paid off, since having two car payments at a time is pretty onerous.

    So, the possibility to trade out of a loan (possibly underwater) and into a new car with a safety net would appeal. That would leave at least one car if the Hyundai has to go back to the dealer.

    You're right, it's a clever hedge that is unlikely to do much damage to the company, but I wonder how the dealers are incented. Car dealers are taking it in the shorts now too, so what happens if their inventory spikes when a plant closes and all those Hyundais come home?

    It's interesting stuff.

  5. so much cynicism!

    Which is part of my problem, I start people with A's and they typically lose my respect. My wife on the other hand starts everyone out with an F and they have to EARN her respect. We're beginning to meet in the middle, however, I'd still say I'm pretty naive.

    I worked for a large corporation which everyone always said was evil (not the specific company, corporations in general). In some sense the “evil” was borne out (fbi? firing? etc), but the people there I will never forget. A lot of very smart wonderful people.

    My point is (I am long winded some times huh?) that a corporation is not necessarily trying to “trick” someone with this. They, ultimately, can't lose money either right? So it should work for both parties…theoritically…or I'm just being naive again.

  6. Personally, I fall toward your wife's side of the cynicism scale.

    Still, I think in this case that even if the motives were financially driven (i.e. drum up business, hedge bets, etc.), the result is a sympathetic program.

    I guess that makes me an “ends-justifies-the-means” guy.

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